18 Apr 2014

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The authorities might find a clue to the crime of kidnapping if they care to investigate
The recent statement attributed to Mr. Ebikeme Clark, son of Chief Edwin Clark, after his release from the kidnappers den, has caused more ripples in the polity than the initial case of the kidnap itself. In essence, the younger Clark had told a bewildered nation that it was Chief Government Ekpomupolo, a.k.a. Tompolo who secured his release from the kidnappers. According to him, all Tompolo did was to threaten the kidnappers to order his release and they complied after he had spent three days with them.

For those who may have missed Ebikeme’s testimony, here are his exact words: “As a matter of fact, Chief Tompolo ordered that I should be released unconditionally and they just complied. Tompolo ordered them (abductors) to release me in their own interest. He ordered them to free me and one Chief Boro Opudu. I was freed at about midnight or shortly after midnight. No ransom was paid for my release. I think they eventually freed us without asking for any money because they have people they listen to or they could be tracked down and eliminated. Perhaps, they were afraid of losing their lives. I am sorry, I can't give you full details now, but I thank Almighty God and everyone that ensured that I was freed.”

While we join in celebrating the release of Ebikeme, we also cannot but enjoin the security authorities to investigate the entire episode against the background of the statement about how the release was secured. There is a need to bring clarity to the exact role Tompolo played and how he was able to do it; otherwise the impression will linger that there are prominent people within our society who know, and have control over, men of the underworld who engage in what has become a serious crime in our country.

There are even other issues about the whole Ebikeme Clark’s kidnap saga that raise a number of questions that need to be seriously interrogated. For instance, before his son’s release, Chief Edwin Clark (currently a delegate at the National Conference) had warned the kidnappers that they would be dealt with should anything untoward happen to his son. He spoke, not as a father afraid that something bad could happen to his son, but as a man with considerable authority. This is breaking away from the mould. Normally, relations of victims do not issue threats to kidnappers for fear of reprisal attacks on their ward. Rather, they engage in all sorts of negotiations, with the kidnappers having the upper hand and talking tough. Reporting to the police is even normally out of the question. In most instances, the cowed relatives of victims usually just settle the kidnappers by paying up the ransom. And even that does not guarantee that the victim would be released alive as was the case with a former deputy governor who was killed even after his family had reportedly paid the demanded ransom to the kidnappers.

Given the foregoing, the manner in which Chief Clark boldly confronted the kidnappers of his son goes against the usual turn of events in Nigeria. That therefore explains why many Nigerians are asking questions. Besides, there have been accusations and counter-accusations between the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and the elder Clark on who was responsible for the kidnap and the motive. And given how weighty some of the allegations are, and the nature of the crime involved, this is not an issue that should be swept under the carpet. There is the need for the security agencies to interrogate what actually transpired. The confession of Clark’s son is too weighty to be ignored. All relevant agencies must x-ray it with the hope of unravelling the thorny problem of kidnapping in our country.

Tags: Editorial

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